The Chicago Tribune has a very interesting article on a jury bill (SB 3075) that recently passed the Illinois legislature. The bill was sponsored by Representative Kelly Burke and supported by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
The bill reduces the number of civil jurors from 12 to 6 and increases juror pay from $25 to $50 a day. According to the newspaper, this bill may sound good and make for a good press release, but it is bad for the state because it hasn't been properly vetted and raises a host of concerns.
A federal district court this week, in U.S. v. Liu et. al, upheld the conviction of three defendants two of whom were attorneys for immigration fraud despite the fact that two different jurors sent out trial-related tweets. The first juror was dismissed prior to deliberations so that juror was less of an issue. The second juror was not removed and thus serves as the basis for the defendant's motion for a new trial. In dismissing the defendant's motion the trial judge determined that
When the embrace of social media is ubiquitous, it cannot be surprising that examples of jurors using platforms like Facebook and Twitter "are legion." United States v. Fumo. And because of the risks inherent in such ac- tivity, "vigilance on the part of trial judges is warranted." Ganias, 755 F.3d at 132. On this record, however, Defendants' claim must fail. Juror2 was an attentive juror who,while engaging in banter with fellow Twitter users about her experience, was nonetheless careful never to discuss the sub- stance of the case, as instructed by the Court. The record is devoid of any evidence that she was either dishonest or biased, or that Defendants were prejudiced by her tweets in any way.
I think the trial judge got it right here. In the Digital Age, it is naive to believe that jurors are going to forego social media throughout the trial; it has become too omnipresent. The key is to see if the juror starts to discuss or get into the merits of the case.
Professor Volokh has an interesting post on the Washington Post about using Powerpoint during trial. In the case (State v. Rivera) referenced in Prof. Volokh's post, the prosecutor went over the top with his use of Powerpoint.
I am a big believer in Powerpoint. I have used it both in the courtroom and the classroom. I find it very helpful in maintaining the attention of both students and jurors. I think individuals, especially Digital Natives, are more receptive to visual information that comes to them in an electronic format. I wouldn't do a whole trial by Powerpoint. However, I think it can be quite effective in the Opening and Closing when you are trying to tell a complete story or sum up the facts.
A Florida trial judge has prohibited a criminal defense attorney from talking to a juror about his guilty verdict. The defense attorney believes that the juror in question might have applied the wrong legal standard in coming up with his verdict. The defense attorney made this determination based on interviews the juror gave to the media after the trial.
In denying the defense attorney's request the judge wrote that
the court finds that the media comments attributed to one juror in Orr relate to matters which inhere in the verdict and are not properly the subject of a juror interview.
Starting August 1st, individuals who file retaliation or discrimination claims pursuant to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) can now request a jury trial. The MHRA prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, public services, and education. The right to a jury trial belongs to the plaintiff or the "person bringing a civil action" rather than the defendant who is alleged to have violated the MHRA. For a brief analysis of this change go here.